Whether you’re a startup or entrepreneur that just launched a product and the picking and packing has you pulling your hair out, or you are an established brand seeking to gain operational efficiencies through outsourcing, deciding on the perfect fulfillment partner to handle your customer orders is a big deal. The Fulfillment Provider that you choose will ultimately serve as an extension of your company. You need a true partner that understands the business. But more importantly, you want someone that can listen to your challenges and offer solutions to make your life easier and your company more profitable.
As you and your fellow decision makers pull up to the table and evaluate the numbers and data, take the following points into consideration:
Give Yourself Ample Time: Planning ahead is an important part of the process. You certainly don’t want to rush the decision. Do your research to determine things like best location, the right technology, fulfillment services you need and experience level of potential providers. It’s also important to think about when is the best time to move inventory. Are you planning to move during your peak season? If so, discuss that timeline with the fulfillment provider and ensure the demands can be met effectively.
Make a Short List of Providers: With this being a critical business decision, go ahead and make a list of the providers that you feel could be a good match based on the criteria above. Are they experienced in handling the type of product you carry? Do they provide the operational services that you need? Is their location a match for the geographic location of your customer base? Can they scale accordingly during your peak order season? Once you define this initial list, then it’s time to engage.
Interview your Top Prospects: A business may have the perfect suite of services, their KPI’s are right on point and the technology they apply is cutting edge; but if the culture of the company is not a match for you, it just isn’t going to work. You need a partner in this business. The only way you will know for sure that you have the right match is by talking through your business challenges together.
Prepare for Transition: Once you have found your future partner in business, it’s time to make the move. Fulfillment Providers on-board clients regularly and should be able to walk you through the process so that you don’t miss a beat.
Change isn’t always easy. With so many variables, it definitely takes a big effort to establish a relationship with a new Fulfillment Partner. However, if you find the right one – the term “Fulfillment” just might take on a whole new meaning.